What are the Duties of the Executor of an Estate?

By Joshua Berkley

Once a person passes on, someone has to attend to and wrap up their financial affairs. This is referred to as settling the estate. It involves collecting the deceased’s assets, paying their debts, and distributing the remaining assets according to the terms of the will or according to the state law in situations when there is no will. The executor is the person named in a will to settle an estate.

The role of an executor in managing and distributing the assets of an estate in a fair and orderly way is extremely important. Estate matters can be complicated and involve a lot of moving parts. It’s wise to consult with an experienced trusts and estates attorney with any questions or concerns.

What Does Probate Mean?

Probate is the formal legal process that recognizes a will and appoints the executor or personal representative who will manage the estate and make sure assets get to the intended beneficiaries. The executor is the point person in this process, which starts when they file the deceased person’s will with the local probate court. If the deceased did not have a will, the court will typically appoint an administrator to handle the estate. The executor is then responsible for gathering the assets of the deceased, which can include real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property.

The Executor Needs to Notify the Creditors

One of the primary duties of the executor is to notify creditors of the deceased person’s passing. This involves publishing a notice in a local newspaper to let potential creditors know about the probate proceedings. In Kentucky, the court will typically submit the probate notice to the local newspaper to ensure creditors are properly notified. Creditors then have a specified period to come forward with their claims against the estate. The executor must carefully review and evaluate these claims, determine that they are legitimate, and then ensure that all valid debts are paid before distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Executor Must Manage and Distribute Assets

After the inventory of assets has been finalized and the creditors’ claims have been addressed, the executor has to manage the assets of the estate. These tasks can include selling property, closing bank accounts, and liquidating investments. The executor must be sure to conduct these transactions with great care to make sure that they are in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries.

In addition, the executor must follow the instructions set out in the will that says how the assets should be distributed among surviving family members or other beneficiaries. In cases where there is no will, state law sets out guidelines on how equitable distributions should be made.

Executor Has to File Tax Returns

Another important duty of the executor is to handle the deceased person’s tax obligations. This includes filing the final income tax return for the deceased individual, as well as estate tax returns, if relevant. The executor must be sure that all taxes owed are settled before finalizing the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.

Contact Berkley Oliver Today to Schedule an Initial Consultation

If you are considering naming an executor or have been named as an executor, it would be beneficial to consult with a Kentucky probate attorney to discuss the specific circumstances and to get proper legal advice. Contact Berkley Oliver with questions about the duties and responsibilities of an executor in Kentucky.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.